Classic Sports Car



After WW2, Vauxhall was quickly back to private-car production but hampered by restrictio­ns on steel availabili­ty, which was allocated based on a proportion of export sales. There was high Purchase Tax on cars sold in Britain, and strict petrol rationing. New-car buyers also had to pledge not to sell for 12 months.

HXF 444 was a Vauxhall 12/4 sold in London in September 1946, and by the early 1950s it had moved to County Tyrone with an Albert Ballantine, who later passed it to his brother Edmond for £220. He then sold the car in 1957 to older brother John.

John was a garage owner in Gortin, some 10 miles from Omagh. He fitted a more powerful engine and converted the floor gearchange to a column shift to make room for more children on the front bench. In 1967 the car was taken off the road with 98,949 miles on the clock and smeared with waste oil for protection.

“Right up to the end Dad harboured ambitions of restoratio­n,” says John’s son Nigel, who was left the car in 2019. “Unfortunat­ely, he failed to register the 12/4 with the DVLA back in 1981. There was no logbook, no tax discs, no insurance certificat­es and no record of repairs.” Nigel was determined to regain the number HXF 444, but kept being rebuffed by the DVLA. The Vauxhall Owners’ Club helped with more informatio­n, still to no avail. “I changed tack and asked that my case be referred for judgement at a higher level,” says Nigel. “To my amazement I came back from holiday to find two letters from the DVLA, one of which contained a new V5C. The Vauxhall is now with Willie Wilson from Ballymena, who has stripped the car and will restore it.”

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 ?? ?? HXF lined up with the Ballantine family’s motoring stable
HXF lined up with the Ballantine family’s motoring stable

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